Sudan sends troops to border after Egypt deploys own forces in Eritrea

Press TV – The Sudanese army has deployed thousands of forces on the eastern border with Eritrea after Egypt, in coordination with the United Arab Emirates, dispatched its forces to a base in Eritrea.

The Sudanese forces have been stationed at a garrison in the border state of Kassala, as both Sudan and Ethiopia have shut down their borders with Eritrea, Sudan Tribune reported on Saturday.

The troops were deployed in anticipation of a possible influx of Eritrean refugees to Sudan’s border, the report said.

The deployment of forces came as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has declared a state of emergency in Kasala and in North Kordofan state for six months.

According to the Sudanese newspaper Assayha, the Ethiopian government has also dispatched military reinforcements to the border with Eritrea and Sudan.

The newspaper cited Ethiopian sources as saying that the deployment of Sudanese forces came after Eritrean military reinforcements, backed by Egypt, as well as rebel movements from the Darfur region in western Sudan, were stationed at Sawa base near the Sudanese-Eritrean border.

According to Al Jazeera, a number of military and security leaders from Egypt, the UAE, Eritrea and the Sudanese rebels have held a meeting at Sawa base.

New tensions have erupted between Sudan and Egypt following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Khartoum in late December. Sudan announced its decision to summon its ambassador to Egypt for consultation, hours after the head of the Sudanese Border Technical Committee, Abdullah Al-Sadiq, accused Egypt of trying to “drag Sudan into direct [military] clashes.”

The photo shows the Ottoman-era Suakin Island on Sudan’s Red Sea coast.

During Erdogan’s visit, Sudan agreed to hand over the Ottoman-era Suakin Island on Sudan’s Red Sea coast to Ankara. Turkey plans to rehabilitate the historic island in order to make it as a tourist site and a transit point for those who want to perform Umrah or Lesser Pilgrimage from Turkey to Saudi Arabia’s holy sites.

Bashir and Erdogan also signed key agreements on a variety of issues just three months after Turkey formally opened a $50 million military training base in the African country as Ankara wields growing influence in the region.

The development drew harsh criticism from the Egyptian and Persian Gulf Arab media, with some accusing Sudan of forming an alliance with Turkey, Iran and Qatar. Both the Sudanese and Turkish officials have rejected the speculation.

The Egyptian media have been severely criticizing Sudan over its support for Ethiopia and its Renaissance Dam on the Nile.

Egypt has reportedly asked Ethiopia to exclude Sudan from the negotiations about the dam, which is feared to disrupt Nile’s crucial water supply to Egypt.